The R60 and R60/2 are 600cc boxer twin BMW motorcycles that were manufactured from 1956 to 1968 in Munich, Germany and were originally designed for sidecar use.
Though BMW invented and first used oil dampened telescopic front forks in the 1930's, they chose to use Earles forks on these models. The triangular or "swing arm" front (and rear) Earles forks were named for their designer, the Englishman Ernest Earles. This system precluded any front-end dive during heavy front braking, which is common with telescopic front forks, and it also worked well in sidecar duty. Though heavy and ponderous in turning, the Earles forks gave the old Beemer a steady and reassuring ride.
I purchased the neglected and, as I found out later, abused bike with about 16,000 km (10,000 mi) on it around 1972, from the original owner. Despite constant care and attention, the motor and transmission needed rebuilds at about 51,000 km (32,000 mi). At the same time, I had the tank and fenders repainted professionally and painted the frame myself.
I rode it regularly until about 1993. During that time I acquired a run down set of Enduro bags with original mounts for about $100.00 and on one trip to San Francisco I acquired a stock solo seat and mount as well as a set of wide after-market handle bars, giving the bike a look which I thought was better suited to its heritage and making it much more comfortable to ride. I had one minor accident which ruined the headlight and added some minor scrapes and dents, but being a BMW, it still ran like a top.
I stored the bike for a few years until I could devote time to a proper restoration. A friend of mine, a professional painter, offered to paint it and although it took him over a year, the results were stunning. The previously rippled, fiberglass Enduro bags were painted and hand polished over and over until they shone like metal. The pinstriping was done to match the tank. Although it’s not stock, we decided we liked silver pinstriping instead of white.
My local mechanic, Shail, who owns his own shop where he restores and works on all the old BMW models, was a huge help and inspiration. I took my time - about 3 years - and made everything work properly, restoring it to a "better than new" state. I found parts on the internet and also acquired the Steib S500 sidecar, which the bike was designed for. The sidecar needed a lot of body work, but I found another painter, John Lippingwell, who did a spectacular job matching the bike. And Shail mounted the sidecar, as he has done many times before.
Leatherwork was done by McBain's Upholstery.
I show the bike when I can, and I hope that everyone who sees it will enjoy it and gain an appreciation for the advanced engineering that began back in 1923…
Madde, frequent passenger
July 7, 1999 – Aug 26, 2008